Pueblos de España, Mini Blogs Vol 4: Canjayar, Almeria

The Province of Almeria is one of many surprises, and one that must be explored beyond the coast. The extensive deserts from Tabernas all the way to the Sierras of Baza, Gador, Alhamilla Nevada and María transform this place into some very dramatic landscapes. Canjáyar is anchored right in the perfect location to make the village worth stopping for. I spent a night there as a stop over for a cycling trip that I did in the end of the summer holidays in 2021, and initially it was out of convenience if anything, but I’m really glad I chose to check this place out. Welcome to the Alpujarra Almerinense.

Canjáyar is located about 45km from Almería, and is almost an hour’s drive, via the mountain road A-348. The most important town of the area, Laujar de Andarax, is just 20 mins the other way. Buses connect the village to these two places as well as other important villages, such as Alhama de Almería and Gádor the latter of which has the nearest train station. Buses can also connect you to other notable mountain villages such as Ohanes and Berja, but are very infrequent, just one or two a day. Train services to Gádor are almost as infrequent as the buses, but have connections as far as Madrid.

The weather in Canjáyar is one that has a relatively mild winter for a mountain village, rarely dropping below freezing, and summers are typically into the low to mid 30’s and usually hotter than Almería itself, except at night. The surrounding mountains may have snow on them during the coldest months, but very little rainfall is registered there, owing to the fact that it is very near the Tabernas desert. It’s unlikely that you will need to prepare for wet weather or extreme cold. I went that the start of September, and wasn’t too far from the limit of comfortable with the heat of the evening, and needed to be careful during the day. Spring time may be the best time to visit.

Accommodation in the village is limited to say the least, as Booking only offer two places on their site, La Posada de Eustaquio, which also has an amazing food in their bar/ restaurant next door. Prices are around 35€-50€ per night, and that rarely fluctuates over the course of the year, and they are really friendly and accommodating there. They allowed me to leave my bike in the foyer, and left breakfast there for me in the early hours of the morning. I would go as far to say that it was my one of my favourite hostels that I stayed in during my 9-day trip. The other place nearby called Casilla Cantón Which is more expensive, and usually very limited. It wasn’t available for me at the time, that’s all I can say.

The sights of this village are more related to the countryside around it rather than the architecture, though the most notable sights are the Parroquía de Santa Cruz, on the Plaza de la Constitución, which is also the most notable square and where the Hostel is. The most impressive area though, is the hill Where the Ermita de San Blas is located, about 10 minutes walk away. The hill is adorned with Cave houses, quite typical of the Granada/Almería region, and a red and white church on the top, which gives way to 360 views of the whole village and mountains.

I spent a good while up there one evening, enjoying the views and taking as many photos as possible, though they don’t do it justice. There are numerous trails for hiking around Canjáyar, but the most popular may be the route to Ohanes, A village about 400m higher up on the south side of the Sierra Nevada, and according to locals, is a very picturesque white village that is worth the journey. Let me know how it is if you do it. There are other trails on the south side to the Sierra de Gádor, and to Padules, the next village further up the Andarax Valley.

Food in Canjáyar is very similar to that of Almería, but with lots more meat involved and dishes typical of the Alpujarra region. The plato alpujarreño is a very hearty dish consisting of various sausages, pork loin, eggs and potatoes. Other dishes are Choto al ajillo (goat stew) potaje de hinojos (highly recommend), and gachas. Soplillos are the most common and famous sweet thing on offer in Canjáyar and resemble lemon meringue. Opening times are very specific in the village, and you may not see many of the bars open in the late afternoon. There are some general stores and a small supermarket available in the centre for basic needs. Almost all of the bars and restaurants will serve typical dishes of the region, and like the rest of Almería, tapas are usually free with every drink you buy, and you may get given a choice like I did.

That sums up this guide, and I hope you enjoy Canjáyar as much as I did. A place that is charmed by it’s landscape, it’s accommodating people, and it’s gastronomy. If you are into adventure, and fancy seeing a different side to the Sierra Nevada. This place and Ohanes should be on your list. Enjoy!

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